South Sudan pound to be launched next week

A man waves South Sudan's national flag as he attends the independence day celebrations in the capital Juba, 9 July 2011
Image caption Southerners fought a long war for independence

South Sudan, the world's newest country, will launch its currency next week, officials say.

The South Sudan pound will feature the image of the late John Garang, the south's most revered leader, the AP news agency reports.

A 2005 peace deal that Mr Garang signed with Khartoum paved the way for the south's independence on 9 July.

Analysts say the launch of a currency is one of many challenges facing the new East African state.

Finance Minister David Deng Athorbei said plane-loads of the South Sudan pound would arrive in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday and it would be in circulation by Monday, the AFP news agency reports.

Its exchange rate would be fixed one-to-one with the former currency, the Sudanese pound, Mr Athorbei is quoted by AFP as saying.

'First football match'

He said the South Sudan government had battled to pay salaries for June and July.

"This difficulty is related to the fact that the Khartoum government did not deliver us the physical cash," Mr Athorbei said.

The south's independence follows decades of conflict with the north in which some 1.5 million people died.

Saturday's independence ceremony was held at the mausoleum of Mr Garang, who died just months after signing the peace deal with Khartoum.

Image caption John Garang was for years the charismatic leader of the southern rebels

On Sunday evening, South Sudan played its first football match, in the capital, Juba.

However, the new national team lost 3-1 to Kenyan club side Tusker FC after taking a 1-0 lead.

South Sudan has not yet been accepted as a member of the world football body Fifa and so the match was not officially recorded.

South Sudan is rich in oil, but is one of the least developed countries in the world, where one in seven children dies before the age of five.

Correspondents say keeping both the north and the south stable will be a challenge.

Fears of a new war resurfaced after recent fighting in the border areas of Abyei and South Kordofan, where some 170,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Separate deals - and the withdrawal of rival forces from the border - have calmed tensions.

But the two sides must still decide on issues such as drawing up the new border and how to divide Sudan's debts and oil wealth.

Citizenship is also a key sticking point. A new law passed by the National Assembly in Khartoum has withdrawn Sudanese citizenship from all southerners.

Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa

Although they were united for many years, the two Sudans were always very different. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Map showing Ethnicity of Sudan, source:

Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.

Map showing infant Mortality in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The health inequalities in Sudan are illustrated by infant mortality rates. In South Sudan, one in 10 children die before their first birthday. Whereas in the more developed northern states, such as Gezira and White Nile, half of those children would be expected to survive.

Map showing percentage of households using improved water and sanitation in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The gulf in water resources between north and south is stark. In Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In the south, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of southerners have no toilet facilities whatsoever.

Map showing percentage of who complete primary school education in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Throughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.

Map showing percentage of households with poor food consumption in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Conflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, depend on food aid. The UN said about 2.8m people in South Sudan would require food aid in 2013. The northern states tend to be wealthier, more urbanised and less reliant on agriculture.

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